Twitter is a global phenomenon, giving millions of people around the world the opportunity to have their say on a range of issues. But what happens when someone wants the conversation to stop? Is it possible to delete Twitter — and permanently?

The simple answer is yes, but it’s not as straightforward as simply clicking a “delete” button. If you want to delete your own account, this guide’s for you.

Why do people delete their Twitter account?

There are many reasons for wanting to delete Twitter. For example, some people’s views change as they grow older. What they once tweeted about doesn’t necessarily represent their views today. Rather than search for individual tweets, it’s often easier to delete the entire account and start again.

For other people, deleting a Twitter account is a simple matter of privacy. If you’re concerned about your views or some of your personal information getting out, you might consider a deletion. Or if you’re worried that some of your views may harm your chances of career advancement, deleting your account may be the only viable option.

It’s important to remember that, as the user, you’re responsible for the tweets that emanate from your account. If they’re abusive, libelous or illegal in any way, you’re the one who could face action.

What does Twitter say about privacy?

When you sign up to Twitter, you’re given a list of terms and conditions, which most people don’t bother reading in full. These Ts and Cs include details of the data Twitter will hold about you. You name, email address, phone number and other profile data will be stored, along with contact, location, and payment information.

Twitter also observes some of your link-clicking activity and may direct ads to your timeline using that information. And, of course, Twitter uses cookies to “enhance” the user experience.

Twitter doesn’t do anything with your information that other social media and Internet companies don’t do. In general, Twitter is a safe and secure platform. However, it’s worth remembering that if you don’t protect your tweets, they’re available to read by any Twitter user. Not only that, search engines can find them, and list them in relevant results pages.

By signing up for an account, you’re accepting all of these privacy issues.

Start by downloading your Twitter history

downloading your Twitter history

You never know when you might need the old tweets you’ve written. You may be accused of saying something you didn’t. Or you might need to recall some important information you once shared in a tweet. It’s always best to download your Twitter archive before you start the account deletion process — just in case.

Start by going to your Twitter “Account settings” (click the profile icon which can be found at the top right of the page). Then, select “Settings and privacy”. Towards the bottom of the menu, you’ll find the link “Request your archive”. Click it, and you’ll receive a message telling you that a link to your archive will be emailed to you. This can take up to 24 hours, so don’t worry if it drags on. Click the link in the email you receive from Twitter to access your archives via a .ZIP file, and save them on your local drive.

How to delete Twitter account in 5 simple steps

delete Twitter account in 5 steps

1. Sign in

Start by heading to Twitter.com and signing into the account you wish to delete

2. Head to your settings

Click your profile icon at the top right of your Twitter page, and a menu will open. Select “Settings and privacy”.

3. Deactivate

At the very bottom of the “Settings and privacy” page, you will find the “Deactivate your account” link. Click it, and you’ll be taken to a warning page.

4. Read the information provided

Deactivating a Twitter account is a big step, which is why the company gives you a cooling-off period. Read the information provided on the deactivation page, which tells you what the process entails.

5. Enter your password

A popup should appear when you click the “Deactivate” link at the bottom of the information page. This is your last chance to change your mind (although you can reactivate your account for a short period afterward). If you’re happy to continue, enter your password in the box provided, and click “Deactivate account”.

Are my tweets now gone?

If you’re keen to erase your tweets from existence, simply deleting your Twitter account probably won’t be sufficient. Search engines may still list your old tweets for months, or even years, after deletion.

If your tweets were originally unprotected, protecting them at a later stage still may not hide them from search engines such as Google and Bing.

When you delete tweets, the likes of Google keeps them in cached search engine results. Until the search engine updates the cache, your old, unprotected tweets will continue to show up on results pages. However, when someone clicks the link, they’ll be taken to Twitter’s error page.

If you want to request that Google removes your tweets as soon as possible, you can do so by sending a link to the tweet to Google’s content removal service. Learn to control your digital footprint – your future you will be thankful!